A certain blue jacket has been hanging in a closet in my parents’ home for the past 20 years. Last week I took it out of the closet and tried it on. After 20 years it still fit… After 20 years it still had three pins pinned to the front of it and it still had the ladies necktie in the pocket… After 20 years I still remember so much about what it meant to wear that jacket…After 20 years I still remember the joy I felt in being a part of a very special organization…After 20 years I still remember these words…
“I believe in the future of agriculture“
Twenty years is a long time to keep a jacket, especially a jacket that one does not wear. Being the sentimental type that I am, I could not bear to part with my blue jacket. For you see, 20 years ago I was one of several who helped to start a Chapter of the National FFA Association at our high school. A high school in rural north central Missouri, in the heart of farm country, and it was without FFA.
“I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging“
At first we functioned as a satellite chapter. The Chillicothe FFA served as our base. We did have our own teacher/advisor and chapter officers, but Chillicothe was the name on the back of our blue jackets and would be for at least three years; or so we thought. It took students, school staff and administrators, the board of education and parents all pursuing this dream of a Meadville FFA chapter to make it so in only one year.
“I believe in leadership from ourselves and respect from others“
Being a brand new chapter, we worked hard to prove ourselves. Not only to other chapters across the state, but also to the community so that they would know that we were not going to take this chance for granted. We entered contests, perfected our record books and wrote speeches all in the hope that we would make it to the stage at State Convention. Make it there we did.
“I believe in less dependence on begging and more power in bargaining“
In the two short years that I was able to wear my blue jacket, I learned that what is in the jacket is just as important as what the jacket represents. For I had to believe in myself and in my classmates. I had to put forth the time and the effort to meet my goals. I had to trust that my advisor was there to help me succeed. I had to embrace all that the classes and the program had to offer. I had to become an FFA member.
“I believe that American agriculture can and will hold true“
Even though 20 years has passed since the beginning, one thing still holds true; the Meadville FFA chapter is dedicated to the future of agriculture. That dedication brings forth productive citizen who peruse higher education, seek careers in the agriculture field, return to the family farm and have a deeper appreciation for where their food, fiber and fuel comes from.
As I have reflected on the past 20 years, one thing I noticed was how timeless this organization is. Students today are still learning things that I learned and are still competing in the same Career Development Events that I competed in. All of these things are traditions, and rightly so, but what truly makes the FFA successful and timeless, is the students who dawn their own blue jackets year after year.
How long has it been since you last put on your blue jacket? Is it still hanging in your closet?
Blessings to you and every member of the National FFA Organization,
Laurie – Country Link